Effective marketing campaigns stem from good briefs.
The first step is deciding what kind of brief is required: a Creative Brief or a Design & Copy Brief.
Creative Briefs versus Design & Copy Briefs
Creative Briefs are a crucial first step in kicking off a marketing campaign. They are used when you know your offering (i.e. your product/service) and your marketing strategy has identified who to target, but you aren’t sure the best path forward.
In contrast, a Design & Copy Brief is most effective when a ‘Creative’ route, media and budget have all been decided.
Once you have decided what kind of brief is required, follow our steps below:
8 Steps to Writing an Effective Creative Brief
Writing a Creative Brief is a cathartic process: a process where you can take a step back and fully consider your customers, your offering and all the internal and external barriers to purchase. The following steps should help you write a brief that any marketing agency would be very happy to receive.
1. Be realistic about timings
There’s a saying about how long it took to build Rome – keep that in mind! If you’re briefing a marketing agency it will be at least two weeks before they present you with any concepts. Factor in the time it takes to turn the chosen concept into a final design with copy, plus the lead times to print (offline) or build (online) and add on a contingency. So, if you want to run a campaign starting in September, you should ideally be briefing in June.
2. Be empathetic
You know everything about your business but don’t assume that others do. Put yourself in the shoes of the recipients of this brief and ensure you give enough information for them to understand who you are, your USP, what it is you want to achieve and why.
3. Segment into clear sections
By writing your brief in a logical manner, it will help others process and retain the information more easily. Sections to include would be: Who your company are and why the brief has arisen; objectives of the campaign and key deliverables; your target audience; a proposition; a clear, measurable, call to action; campaign budget; timings.
4. Include a clear proposition
A proposition is the anchor to a good creative brief and is a vital element in conveying to the creative team what you’re reaching for. It’s a single-minded sentence that encapsulates the sentiment of your key message.
5. Be clear and concise
Find a balance between giving enough information and waffling. Aim to write a brief no longer than two pages.
6. Supporting information
In addition to the above two pages, do include supporting information. Examples of your or your competitors marketing collateral that you think is strong; brand guidelines; inspiration from other sectors; and qualitative or quantitative research.
7. Tweak and refine
A good brief will take a couple of days to write. Revisit your first draft with fresh eyes, fill in any gaps and ensure the brief communicates your objective clearly. It’s also worth asking a colleague for a second opinion too.
8. Brief the creative team verbally
No matter how good your brief is, there will always be questions. A verbal briefing gives you the opportunity to bring it to life, ensure it’s understood, answer questions and for the creative team to get a feel for you and your business. Remember, an inspired creative team can create magic from the mundane. Think price comparison and Meerkats!
And a few tips for reviewing concepts? Take your time to digest them; be open to new ideas but also listen to your gut; remember ABC – A: does it grab your attention? B: is it on brand? and C: does it have a clear call to action?
10 Steps to Writing an Effective Design & Copy Brief
Design and Copy briefs, when written well, will feel like you’re doing the creative work yourself. They need to be prescriptive; a communication of your ‘vision’. The below steps will focus you into writing a clear brief.
1. Campaign overview
Outline the campaign: put it into context, detail what you’d like to receive and establish what the KPIs are.
2. Know your format
Having a clear idea of your format, or being able to steer your creative team towards a cost-effective format will save time. It will help them visualise what you’re looking to achieve and give them parameters to work within.
3. Map it out
Write your brief as if you’re looking at, and are describing, the finished article. Split it down by page, paragraph and call to action and detail what information needs to be conveyed in each section. Include details of the kind of imagery you’d like to see and any logos, T&Cs and accreditations.
4. Tone of voice
If you have an established tone of voice (TOV) then include examples for the copywriter. Otherwise, steer them in the right direction. For example: formal business language, jovial, neighbourly.
5. Call to action
The end result of your effort is that you want action from your customers. Therefore, ensure you’ve set up a clear, trackable, easy call to action (CTA). If there’s a promotion associated with it, ensure it carries urgency and if there’s an offer code, make it fun and memorable.
Time and money will be saved if you supply a complete brief. This means supplying your written brief with all the necessary assets such as brand guidelines, logos, postage indicia, telephone numbers, urls and images with full usage rights.
If you have a specified format, include all the necessary details on your brief: size, orientation, bleed, safe areas around logos and indicias, whether it has to be black or full colour or a special pantone and what file format it needs to be supplied as.
Include a review date to look at the design and copy, ensuring you build in enough time for amends prior to print/submission date.
If you don’t have a specified format or images of your own, be sure to include a budget for the designer to keep in mind.
10. Previous examples
If there is a previous marketing campaign you’d like the team to use as a basis, be sure to include it. Likewise, with any competitor material or copy.